Staying Invisible (MF)
[BookStrand Contemporary Romantic Suspense, HEA]
Samantha Clements, a freelance editor, learned the devastation that can come with love when she loses the love of her young life in a car crash. Even years later, Samantha still isolates herself from everyone both emotionally and physically to protect her heart.
Luc Cavenaugh, because of his covert work with the government, must hide his true self from most of his friends and family. Having almost no one who knows the person behind the cover is getting really old, though, and having someone who knows the real Luc is beyond tempting.
A desperate act brings them together, but when Luc's current assignment places Sam in danger, he will do whatever he must to ensure her safety, even if it means pushing her away. Through lies, deceit, and fear, they succumb to passion, but will they discover too late that staying invisible isn’t necessary when they are together?
A BookStrand Mainstream Romance
“I am so screwed,” Luc muttered under his breath as he glanced around the corner of the building and tried to keep pressure on the six inch gash across his ribs and hold on to his 9mm at the same time. Seriously, who got mugged by some street thug while on his way home from doing surveillance on a suspected terrorist?
“I do, that’s who,” he said, answering his own question. He hoped it was a mugging, but seriously, considering his line of work and the fact that said mugger didn’t really try very hard to rob him, he was most likely wrong.
He supposed it could have been worse, the gun shot could have gone into his kidney instead of glancing off of his ribs. Based on the amount of blood he was losing, though, he figured he had very little time to get off the street and get some medical attention before he lost consciousness. Even with the pain to keep him awake, he could feel the tell-tale light-headed feeling that preceded passing out. He just hoped it wouldn’t happen in the street.
Scoping out the possible places to hide, he came up with a woefully-short list. The stairs that led up to what seemed to be a converted row house looked to be his best bet at a hiding place, but how to get inside without drawing attention was the big question.
“Of all the fucking luck,” he continued. “Why does this crap always happen to me?” Breathing in to try to stay on top of the sharp pain that was quickly transitioning into a throbbing burn, he leaned back against the brick wall and tried to block out the intense burning that was joined by the wet slide of his life’s blood down his left side. Funny, the blood feels almost cool compared to the fire from the gun shot.
Keeping his right hand wrapped around his 9mm Glock and listening for the sound of footsteps, he wasn’t sure how long he could wait to treat his ribs, but based on the spots in his vision and the slightly light-headed feeling he was experiencing, sooner would be better, unless he wanted to bleed out in an alley. Not on his to-do list today, he decided.
He tried to tune out the distant D.C. traffic noises and focus on anything that sounded outside the norm, but wasn’t sure that the footsteps, when he heard them, weren’t a shock-induced product of his imagination.
As they got nearer and nearer, Luc risked a glance at the steps in front of him and figured that it was either some political aide returning home to one of the many row houses that lined the normally quiet residential street, or someone had successfully managed to track him the twelve blocks he’d run from where he’d been shot. Either way, he had to move quickly.
The moment those footsteps moved past his hiding spot, Luc stepped away from the matching bricked stairs at his back to press his body against the sweet-smelling brunette who would have screamed if he hadn’t placed his hand over her mouth.
He almost put the gun to her side and demanded she help him, but his manners kicked in and, in a husky voice, he grated, “I won’t hurt you.” She struggled briefly, but he kept a tight, almost bruising grip on her arms. “I need help, but I need you to keep quiet. I promise I won’t hurt you,” he almost whispered. “Please,” he added.
* * * *
Sam tried to stay calm and hoped her heart wouldn’t jump out of her mouth when he took his hand away, but based on the intense pounding in her chest and the thumping even she could hear, she was pretty sure that hope was more like a pipe dream.
“Please,” he repeated and something in the slight tremble she could feel in his arm and the pleading she could hear in his deep, husky voice had her stopping all movement and slightly nodding her head.
“Can I take my hand away?”
She nodded again.
“You won’t scream?”
A slight shake this time, even though a voice somewhere in the back of her mind was screaming, Idiot! He’s going to murder you!
Even as the thoughts raced through her head about what a terrible idea this was, another part of her was like, Meh, it has to happen sometime and really, who’ll notice?
As he slowly removed his hand from her mouth, she could tell he had tensed to immediately cover it again if it looked like she planned to scream, and though a part of her was terrified, it was kind of nice to be the starring attraction in her own personal crime drama.
“I’ve been shot and I need to go somewhere to patch it up.”
Whatever Sam had been expecting to hear, that certainly wasn’t it. Maybe something along the lines of, “I’m on the run from the cops,” or “The mob is after me,” or even, “Please hide me from my crazy girlfriend,” but not, “I’ve been shot.”
Gasping and twisting in his arms despite his attempt to keep her still, Sam turned to face her captor. “God, why didn’t you say so? There’s a hospital a few blocks away.” Reaching into her purse, she tried to find her phone. “I can call an ambulance or a-a-a taxi.” Where was her darn phone? Even as she was reaching for the phone, she knew it couldn’t be that easy. She was right.